Wondering how I was going to approach a blog post isn’t something I often struggle with, or think too much about, but this one, I wasn’t quite sure with. I’ve been sitting on this post, keeping it warm, until I figured it out, and I suppose by the looks of it I may have done just that, but we’ll see how this goes.
A couple of Sundays ago, after nearly getting hit by some doofus on the freeway who was probably going 90 to 100 mph in a red Dodge, maybe it was a Chevy, could’ve been a Ford, all I know is it was red, I arrived to meet Melody and Doyle at Malibu Creek State Park.
We started out nice and easy, which would probably be the nicest and easiest it would get for me the entire run.
Both of them are set to run the Bulldog 50K at the end of August, and me? Well, I am not.
Every time I return to the Bulldog course loop after a hiatus, I always struggle on it, and on this day, I was facing it after an 11-month hiatus. If anyone is doing the math, and I wouldn’t believe anyone in their right mind would be, 11-months ago was when I did the Bulldog 50K and got a PR! There would be no PR’s for me on this day. But that would indeed be the last time I set foot on these trails and every single time I return to them, it’s always a rude awakening.
The ‘dog is none too kind.
Once we start up the long tough climb, which is around 2,000 feet of vert within a few miles, we all got a little more quiet and I started to really question why I was out there. Earlier in that week, Doyle posted he was doing a Bulldog loop (25K) and asked if anyone would like to join him. I decided to join. Maybe I wanted to push my body a little harder than I have been and this is one such course to do it with. Besides I’d have company and you know how misery loves company.
We all slowly started to settle into our own pace. This isn’t uncommon amongst a group, but for the most part, people generally tend to stay near, or within eyesight of each other. However, it isn’t unusual for someone to run a little ahead, or follow behind.
I wasn’t surprised when Doyle held a good clip and started blazing up the trail, making the distance between he, and Melody and I, greater and greater. Within a few short minutes, he was out of eyesight and gone.
As I kept putting one foot in front of the other slowly but surely, Melody stayed either a few feet ahead, or along side of me. As we chatted in between me huffing and puffing my way up, we had no idea what happened to Doyle. He simply took off.
Melody and I continued to climb and I took more video* of us talking about this run, this course, and the fact, semi-jokingly, how Doyle ditched us. The two people who decided to join him. We didn’t see him for an hour and 10 minutes according to my time stamps.
[*Side note: I haven’t decided whether or not to put this video together.]
Now, I’m not sure what others generally experience when they run with people on a trail, but it’s never been my experience before that day, to not see a member of the group I’m with for over an hour; not knowing where they are, how far up ahead they are, or if they’re actually going to wait for you at some point. I would assume yes, eventually.
I’ll be honest and I’ve been honest throughout this post and every post I write, but I found it rude. I decided to spend my Sunday morning out on a trail, for a race that I’m not even doing because someone asked if anyone would like to join them, and yet that person takes off and disappears for an hour? Without so much as a heads-up, “Hey guys, I feel great and I’m going to speed up.” Great! Wonderful! Do your thang!! I would never hold anyone back from doing what they need to do.
Turns out, his training plan called for something he specifically needed to do, unbeknownst to anyone else. And because neither I, nor Melody, were ever clued in on this, no wonder I found it rude.
What if Melody didn’t show up and it was just me? Would he have done that? I don’t know. I’m going to believe he wouldn’t have.
When I tried to explain my reasons for finding it rude, he didn’t want to hear it. Believe me I tried, and I’m sure it annoyed the shit out of him, but my efforts fell on deaf ears, and I received a “I didn’t know I had to tell you my agenda” response.
I got silent and went inside my head – mostly because my legs were tired and my lungs were out of breath. Two weeks later I’m still out of breath. However, I was out there to do this trail with him, and Melody. I didn’t have to go out there at all. I could’ve slept in. I could’ve done fewer miles. I could’ve picked a closer trail. I wasn’t even feeling well the day before and yet, I didn’t want to flake out.
It’s here, I want to state my purpose of talking about this, because it’s kind of important.
The purpose of this post is not to villainize him. That is not what I want to do, and that is not my intention. I don’t believe he was deliberately, or even maliciously trying to leave us out there.
He was simply doing what he felt was perfectly acceptable. I know there will be people who will agree with him on that, and everyone has their right to believe whatever they want, but it’s because of what happened that got me thinking about trail running with other people.
Let’s just open this dialogue shall we? Because I feel like there’s something to be learned from this experience.
So this past week I scoured the interwebs trying to find information about trail running with others and all I could find are articles about trail running etiquette (be courteous) and what you should know about trail running (it ain’t all running). There really wasn’t anything geared towards running with others except for one little tidbit of information in Trail Runner Magazine.
The question was: “What are strategies for running with a faster or slower friend and still getting a good workout?”
First piece of advice? “First, set your goals and intentions for the run prior to starting.”
While Melody and I were still making our way up the Bulldog trail, we said to each other maybe he’ll wait for us at the top. This wasn’t the case. He kept going. He had to, because his training plan called for it. Nobody, but him, knew this. He did eventually stop, and that’s because his training plan told him he had to rest.
When it comes to running in a group, I think it’s important if you’re going to ask others to join you on a run, or hike, to state your intentions. It’s a courtesy you extend to others who are joining you. You.
If you’re out for an easy fun trail run, without a time goal or set mileage let that be known. Your friends may want to do something entirely differently, like say, 20 miles and climb 10,000 feet.
I believe it would’ve turned out differently if he said, I have to do X, Y, and Z for my training plan. At some point I have to take a break and I’ll wait for you. Or keep up with me if you’d like. If not, bye suckas! Just kidding. I don’t think he would’ve say suckas. Or maybe he would have.
That’s a perfect case scenario and it actually might be asking for too much, but is it really?
So I say, tell your friends what you’re planning on doing. Let them decide if they’d like to partake. If not, they’ll do what they need to do for themselves. And if you want to keep your plan a secret, then maybe you should think about making it a solo run that day.
Also, if you’re not having a great day and need to slow down, let your friends know it’s okay for them to speed up and run up ahead. Let them decide if they want to do so, or hang back with you. And don’t take it personal if they leave you in their dust. Just get back at them later when you’re feeling awesome!
Of course, these are just my two cents. My thoughts and my take-away.
This was not an easy run for me. In fact, when we were crossing over the rocks in the creek, I pulled something in my left calf and it felt like it was going to cramp up. Eventually it worked itself out, but I struggled. I struggled hard up at the climb. It was tough, and I knew it would be going into it. However, we did cover about 16 miles that day which was the most I’ve done in a long time so I had that going for me, and I’m honestly glad I did this run.
And in the grand scheme of things, Doyle leaving us for an hour without telling us his reasons upfront is not a huge deal. I actually laugh about it now because it’s never happened to me before, but I suppose there is always a first for everything.
I always try to remember that things don’t happen to me, they happen for me. Maybe it was so I can look at the bigger picture and know what I need to do in case I ask others to join me on a trail run, or even ask what others are doing first, so I can make the choice and decide if it’ll be a good fit for me. After this one, I just might aim for a few more of those easy fun trail runs. That is, until I catch my breath.
Thanks for reading and Happy Trail Running!
P.S. I should note that all ended well with this run. I was flat-out exhausted, and Doyle gave me a much needed Coca-Cola which I was very grateful for. No hard feelings at all. At least not on my end. 🙂